In this series of features Nintendo Life contributors will share thoughts on their most memorable games of 2017. This entry by feature writer Arjun Joshi focuses on the year's new IP from Nintendo - ARMS.
What memorable game really grabbed me this year? Pun intended, it’s ARMS! ARMS is a unique and innovative take on your typical brawler-boxer fighting game, as it gets you moving (if you choose to play with motion controls), relies on mind games and precision, and really makes you feel like you’re in the fighter’s shoes. Sadly, due to the plethora of big N and third-party releases on the Switch since the game's launch, it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle a tad – but it certainly deserves more than just a swift pick-up-and-play.
Back in January I was lucky enough to attend the Nintendo UK Switch premiere event, and what stole the show for me was the whacky yet intricate beat-em-up. I didn’t think I would say that considering titans like Breath of the Wild were also present to try out at the event, but the pure fun my comrade and I had when throwing both physical and verbal jabs at each other on the wrestling-ring-styled stage could not be topped. I knew there and then that it was a day one purchase for me.
Forward to the Spring, and I was again fortunate enough to attend Nintendo UK's 'influencer' event for the game. I got to learn the game’s deep mechanics – from unique character abilities to a variety of arm combinations – and it really hammered home that there was so much more to consider than it simply being an arm-flailer. I also managed to place 2nd in the tournament that was hosted after we got to learn the game, which topped off the day nicely! The event further cemented that it was a must-have on the Switch due to the amount of fun we all had with it, and that there was so much more to explore!
Moving onto the game’s release, I can’t express enough how much enjoyment my pals and I have had with it since. My friends aren’t really “Nintendo gamers” – well, at least compared to me – but we’ve spent a helluva lot of time on ARMS, creating our own tournaments and really getting competitive with it. It shows that the game is accessible enough for newbies to enjoy and pickup instantly, while also offering a deeper layer of mechanics to learn and master for those who’re motivated. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about my beloved Smash Bros., a game I’ve tried time and time again to get my friends into, but for whatever reason they simply can’t grasp. It’s this instant “grab” that makes ARMS special – it’s immediately obvious what the game is about and offers right from the start, but the more you play, the more you want to learn, practice, and implement new strategies.
Regarding control schemes for ARMS, my friends and I have always preferred motion controls via Joy-Cons over Pro Controllers. Sure, the latter provides more of a competitive edge, but for us, actually manipulating your punches etc. with the push of your forearms and the twist of your wrists is the beauty of the game – it really does create that feeling that you are in the fight. But what’s interesting about ARMS is that every character has access to the same arms, if you will, with only their exclusive abilities and handling that makes them different from the next guy with the same arm setup. With that said, it’s great to witness what characters (and their abilities) and arm combinations suit different play styles, especially when you haven’t played a friend for a while, only for them to show up with a completely new setup that throws you off track. You know they’ve been putting the work in elsewhere!
ARMS is an unsung hero among video game releases this year. It provides a new and novel take on fighting games in a way only Nintendo can apply, and offers a great experience for both newbies and veterans. Couple this with a fun selection of modes, a plethora of things to unlock and collect, and copious amounts of free DLC, ARMS is a game that’ll sure keep you both on your seat, and off it!